Mark Glende and Hank Wessel were honored in Washington D.C. Wednesday as two of the five Award winners of the 2018 Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE).
Glende is the Head Custodian at Sioux Trail Elementary School, a 22-year employee of ISD 191 Burnsville-Eagan- Savage School District and member of SEIU Local 284. Wessel is a driver for Alexandria Public Schools and member of Minnesota School Employees Association for 17 years.
The RISE award is being given to five individuals from across the country who are doing extraordinary and inspirational things in their schools and communities to promote quality education, foster positive learning environments, and ensure student success.
Glende was recognized for his proven track record of going above and beyond to make the school a safe, welcoming and enriching place for all the students. Mark has worked hard to make the school a more energy efficient building, establishing the S.E.E. SQUAD, Schools for Energy Efficiency. For this project, he worked with student groups on things like turning off classroom lights when unoccupied and making sure blinds were down at the end of the day to keep the heat from escaping overnight. They found out that by turning off gym lights for just two hours a day the school could save an additional $500 per month.
“I'm very proud to win this award. I truly believe if we each leave things a little better than we find them, we can accomplish amazing things,” said Glende. “I am proud to be able to work every day to make that a reality for students in my community."
Because of the work of Glende and others, Sioux Trail Elementary School became one of the first Minnesota schools to become an ENERGY STAR Leader Top Performer and in 2007 ranked as the second most energy-efficient school in the Midwest.
“Mark is a classic example of school employees across Minnesota who go above and beyond every single day to make our schools safer and more enriching for our students,” said Keith Niemi, President of SEIU Local 284. “We are incredibly proud of Mark and the positive impact he is making on students, his school, and the community. His whole SEIU Local 284 family are incredibly proud of this outstanding achievement.”
Glende’s work saw him appointed to his city’s newly formed Environmental & Sustainability Task Force in 2015. Mark was elected chairman by the task force members in the first year, and over the next 3 years, the task force has been responsible for a 52% decrease in energy consumption in the city’s 5 municipal buildings.
Hank Wessel provides acceptance and understanding to children every day while maintaining their safety and educational transport. For 17 years, he has been a pillar of the school district and with the community. “I have received awards from other unions, but this is by far the most rewarding. You try to do the best you can at your job and for your union people and are never sure you have done enough. So, when you are considered for an award like this it is extremely humbling and rewarding”, said Wessel.
The RISE award is given yearly by the National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU), a coalition of state and national unions that together represent a million school support employees. The award highlights the individual contributions of school staff and recognizes the essential role that all education professionals play in shaping our public schools.
There are more than 2.8 million classified education support employees in our nation’s public schools, colleges, and universities and they make up one-third of the public education workforce. They ensure students achieve at their highest levels. They keep students fed, emotionally and physically healthy and safe, engaged and connected to the larger school community, and provide instruction and support that leads to academic success.
Classified education support employees work in the following nine career families:
- Child nutrition service
- Clerical services
- Custodial and maintenance services
- Health and student services
- Paraeducators Security services
- Skilled trades
- Technical services
- Transportation services